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Maryland Vocational and Technical Schools

While four-year degrees seem to get the most press, they aren't the only post-secondary training option available. In fact, Maryland vocational schools may get students into the workforce faster and may help them earn more money than they could with a higher degree.

Career and technical education has evolved over the years. It's no longer the vocational training of yesterday.

According to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), individuals with a CTE-related associate degree or credential can earn an average of $4,000-$19,000 more a year than a worker with an associate degree in the humanities. In addition, 27 percent of CTE trained workers earn more than those who have a bachelor's degree.

In its Maryland Ready plan, the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) notes 66 percent of jobs in the state will be expected to require some form of postsecondary training by the year 2020. However, only 45 percent of those will need a college degree. The other positions can be filled by those who have earned a postsecondary diploma, certificate, associate degree or other education from Maryland trade schools.

Vocational education trends and opportunities in Maryland

For Maryland technical schools, the turn of the century has been a time of growth. From 1995-2005, the number of certificates issued in the state jumped 83 percent, according to data from the MHEC. Of the six certificate areas tracked, health tech saw the biggest increase with a 287 percent increase in certificates granted during that ten year period.

The MHEC data complements findings from the National Center for Education Statistics which also notes interest in health care is particularly strong in Maryland. According to the NCES, the following were the most popular areas of study for certificate programs in the state during 2010:

  • Health services: 5,406 certificates granted
  • Consumer services: 1,694 certificates granted
  • Manufacturing, construction, repair and transportation: 1,644 certificates granted
  • Business management: 803 certificates granted

Job seekers pursuing a certificate or CTE-related associate degree may want to focus on areas with the most jobs available. The Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development says the following sectors employed the greatest percentage of the state's workforce in 2014.

  • Professional and business services: 16.6%
  • Education and health services: 16%
  • Retail trade: 11.2%
  • Leisure and hospitality: 10.2%

However, those interested in maximizing their income potential may want to explore niche programs at Maryland vocational schools. For example, utilities employ only 0.4 percent of the Maryland workforce but offer average wages of $2,128 per week, the highest of all industry sectors. To find a job in this specialized field, students may want to explore programs related to energy or perhaps the construction trade.

Career outlook for graduates of Maryland trade schools

In terms of specific career options, Maryland technical schools offer programs preparing students for a wide range of job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds the following vocational positions employed the most residents in 2014.

  • Secretarial professionals: 61,670
  • Registered nurses: 47,790
  • Nursing assistants: 26,520
  • Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks: 24,400
  • Maintenance and repair professionals: 22,260

In addition, many of the fastest growing jobs in Maryland are available to those with career and technical education. The following chart highlights some notable occupations Maryland trade schools are currently preparing students to fill. Job growth is calculated by the BLS for 2012-2022.


Degree Required

Job Growth

 Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Associate degree


 Occupational Therapy Assistants

Associate degree


 Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians

Associate degree


 Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Associate degree


 Surgical Technologists



 Computer User Support Specialists

Associate degree


 Web Developers

Associate degree


 Medical Equipment Repairers

Associate degree


 Physical Therapy Assistants

Associate degree


 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians

Certificate or associate degree


Source: Projections Central, 2013

Expert advice on vocational education in Maryland

For more information on Maryland technical schools, we talked with Sean Lynch, the legislative and public affairs manager for the Association for Career and Technical Education. Here's what he had to say about getting a vocational degree in the state.

Why might Maryland students want to consider a vocational degree rather than a four-year degree?

We here at ACTE like to look at technical education as a great way to open doors to students.

Career and technical education prepares students to go on to a variety of different paths. That might be going on to a four year degree, but it might also be going on to a two-year degree or gaining an industry-recognized credential.

One of the reasons students are excited about career and technical education is that it gives them a chance to explore their interests earlier and then get [an] applied learning opportunity. It's a really fantastic [way] for students to explore what they might be interested in and then gain that hands-on learning so they can hit the ground running when they start their career.

Career and technical education has evolved over the years. It's no longer the vocational training of yesterday. It's providing students with a meaningful learning education that I'm not sure everyone realizes is available to them.

What are the top industries in Maryland?

According to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, they have some key industries they've identified including:

  • Aerospace and defense
  • Energy and sustainability
  • IT and cyber-security
  • Life sciences
  • Manufacturing

All of those are CTE related fields. CTE prepares students for a variety of careers within those fields, whether that's health care where they is enormous growth projected nationwide to energy and sustainability where people can get involved in things they're passionate about, particularly as students are getting interested in going green.

How will vocational training evolve in Maryland?

I think one thing we're seeing, not only in Maryland but nationwide, is getting business and industry really excited and [providing them] a meaningful place at the table in developing these programs and being partners to educational institutions. By having that employer input, they can not only best describe what's going on in their workplace but also make these meaningful connections with the schools so students are getting a really fantastic experience.

About the Expert

Sean Lynch is the Legislative and Public Affairs Manager for the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). He earned his Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science and German from St. John's University.


  1. Interview with Sean Lynch, ACTE
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition
  3. Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, http://business.maryland.gov/about/workforce
  4. Subbaccalaureate certificates awarded 2010, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ctes/tables/S113.asp
  5. Trends in Lower Division Certificates Awarded by Major Program, http://www.mhec.state.md.us/highered/statinfo/PDFT8/T8Tab1.pdf
  6. Maryland Ready 2013-2017, http://www.mhec.state.md.us/highered/2004plan/2013%20Maryland%20State%20Plan/MHECStatePlan_2014.pdf
Vocational Schools in Maryland
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